Are you who you say you are?

When identifying one’s personal online identity, there are a variety of forms that come to mind: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. These pages are a self-designed representation of yourself, in a way that you wish to be perceived. As you are the creator of your online identity, there may be a lack of authenticity. Due to the public nature of the internet, there can be a tendency for individuals to manipulate their profile in a manner they feel is more acceptable to viewers. This can go as far as creating a different identity altogether. For most people there may not be uniformity across their identities; e.g. your LinkedIn profile may represent you very differently to your Instagram account.


What individuals may not realise, is that they create online identity’s every time they use the web. In doing this they leave behind traces whenever they access the internet, which is known as your digital footprint (InternetSocietyVideo 2016). Companies use this information to create a customer profile, meaning they can direct certain marketing towards you. As a consumer I feel this is a positive, as you learn about products you may be interested in but have never encountered. “Terms and conditions may apply” however, is a documentary explaining how companies possessing your online identity can be a worry.

I believe, there is no problem possessing multiple online identities; an issue is created when the purpose of them are malicious or to deceive. An example of this is the documentary “Catfish“. You could be anyone online; it is easy to create an identity far from your offline self. I personally experienced someone using my pictures to represent herself; this resulted in myself receiving abusive messages from the man who had been deceived. The lack of this woman’s authenticity resulted in negative emotional externalities to be brought upon myself. Multiple online identities can be problematic when they are used to facilitate cyber-bullying, in 2015 Childline counselled over 11,000 children about online issues (NSPCC 2015). In this scenario, the online identity provides a shield for the bully to hide behind and act in a way their offline identity would not.

Regardless of your view on possessing multiple identities, it seems difficult to escape holding them if you wish to fully utilise/engage with what the internet has to offer. It is vital we understand the importance of maintaining an appropriate online identity, especially for professional purposes.



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7 thoughts on “Are you who you say you are?

  1. davinaheer says:

    Hi Tiffany,

    Your blog caught my attention when I read about your own personal experience of someone stealing your identity and how it was you that got blamed and abused. It made your blog more personal to the reader and made me think about how hidden identities are just a way to promote and increase cyber-bullying. To steal or create a whole new identity is becoming much easier and making the online community more corrupt. It is scary to think that something innocent from changing a small fact about yourself, to get audience approval, can turn into a whole new persona.

    Like yourself, I also mentioned in my blog about different social media platforms representing different part of ourselves. However, do you think there is a clear definition of the different identities we try to perceive on each platform? And can too many lead to confusion?



    1. tiffanytoblog says:

      Hi Davina,

      Thanks for your comment. You would not believe the shock and confusion I was going through when I was receiving those messages, it was very uncomfortable and I would not wish it upon anyone. It made me realise how your important it is to be on top of your privacy settings when it comes to social media, especially photos.

      I see your point, as this would apply in real life, if someone was to be completely different every time you interacted with them you would probably assume some form of personality disorder. So why should it be any different online? I feel there must be some form of synergy across the online identities, for example no contradictions on facts about the individual (e.g. what school you went to) and if they say they like dogs, you would expect them to like dogs on every online identity, whether they display that is the difference.



  2. arunchagar says:

    Hi Tiffany,

    You have a strong understanding of the topic, with a range of sources supporting your post. Your video did not work though- private.

    Your explanation of digital footprint interests me, now I understand why I get Myprotein adverts everywhere! Did you know ‘hyper-targeted’ ads is an example of direct marketing?

    However, are you sure individuals create online identities every time they use the web? Internet Society (2015) argue someone’s online identity is constructed through partial identities, for example a social identity formed through Facebook, Twitter (partial identities) etc. I argue online identities are built upon, but not newly formed every time someone uses the web.

    Despite needing an appropriate online identity, for professional purposes, do you think individuals social identities sometimes impact their professional identities? I found that 75% of recruiters use Facebook to select potential candidates (Independent, 2015). Is there any way this can be overcome?


    1. tiffanytoblog says:

      Hi Arun,

      Thank you for your comment. Apologies my video did not work!

      I see your point, and I must have misinterpreted the concept, I used the term “online identity” when I should have been using the tern “partial identity”. What I pictured was: every time you visit a new webpage, your identity to that webpage is unique and individual, e.g. when I am on ASOS, my partial identity is someone who is very interested in knitwear jumpers and evening dresses. This will differ from my Instagram identity, where I will be someone who is intrigued by creative food creations and fitness posts.

      My brother is an example of an individual who has gone so far as to create an entirely different facebook for his colleagues, with minimal pictures and barely any activity. I am unsure as to whether this is an appropriate solution to the problem, as we are implying we cannot truly be ourselves in our work environment. What do you think?



  3. arunchagar says:


    I think your brother has made the correct decision to create a separate partial identity to communicate online with his colleagues. In my blog, I make reference to Zadi Diaz’ video, who proposes that when combining partial identities together, referring to both social media and professional partial identities (something I think you agree with), individuals should post sensibly. Simply put, be professional even when being personal.

    Due to the difficulties of this task, especially for the younger generation (I assume your brother falls into this category), making separate partial identities is, in my opinion, the way forward…unless you are extremely careful with what you post online!

    Hope that is an ‘adequate’ answer haha


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